‘The Fabulous Stains’ – A Great Lost Punk Film.
Above Photo: Screenshot of Diane Lane who plays the lead singer of the Stains.
I recently watched an excellent Punk film called Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains. Shot in 1982, it featured a fictional British Punk band of Ray Winstone (singer), and a distinguished REAL Punk musician line-up of former Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook on drums, Steve Jones on guitar and Paul Simonon of the Clash on bass.
Sometimes called a “Lost” Punk film, because it is rarely seen or broadcast, I was sent a bootleg copy by a friend and really enjoyed it.
As far as I can make out it wasn’t well received when it originally came out, and even the screenwriter was so unhappy with the finished product that he changed his name on the film.
For me it was weird to see Paul Cook, Steve Jones and Paul Simonon, all in their prime, in the film’s fictional band (The Looters). The band’s opening number was just like a blast of vintage ex-Pistols; a really great sound, which helped convey the feeling of someone coming into contact for the first time with the power of a Punk band playing live.
The British Punk band’s musical nemesis was a jaded Kiss-style band called the Metal Corpses (whose lead singer and guitarist were played by Fee Waybill and Vince Welnick, two members of the real US Punk band The Tubes).
The Stains was an all-girl band, which included Diane Lane and Laura Dern, who cleverly self-market themselves through mass media (the TV – as the real-life Sex Pistols had done a few years earlier) and whose journey shows how Instant Fame can raise a band and then swallow it up.
Along the way they are ripped off on merchandising and learn a few hard lessons about themselves and the dog-eat-dog nature of the music business. And the finale avoids a neat, schmaltzy tying-up of loose ends, which is always good to see.
One other thing I really enjoyed was the cinematography – the vivid colours and the night-time shooting were outstanding. It was hard to believe I was watching a 33 year old film.
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